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Preparing for the arrival of your new puppy - Part 1

18/07/2019 - Puppy Training Tips

So, you’ve done your research, you’ve found an excellent breeder and you’ve picked your new puppy from a litter of adorable bundles of fluff. You have a few weeks before you bring your new puppy home – how exciting!!! But are you fully prepared for that big day? Have you thought about how you will puppy proof you home and your garden? Do you have young children that will also need to be prepared for the arrival? Do you have other dogs or pets that will need careful introductions? Do you know what kit you need to buy? Have you considered how much time you will need to spend with the puppy as you settle them into their new environment?

Bringing home a new puppy is not that different to bringing home a new baby so it’s best to be as prepared as possible when the day comes. Don’t wait until the day they arrive to put things in place, use these precious, quiet few weeks to plan and prepare to ensure that first day with your new puppy is as stress free as possible for everyone.

This is a first in a series of blogs to help you prepare for your new puppy. This first instalment is all about puppy proofing your home and garden and what equipment you will need to buy.

Puppy Proofing your home - inside

Believe it or not your puppy isn’t going to know the difference between a lovely fluffy new puppy toy and the bottom of your plush velvet curtains. Puppies explore with their mouths as they don’t have hands like us, so this means they are likely to mouth on all the things they shouldn’t e.g. electric cables, table legs, skirting boards, rubbish bins, curtain ties etc.

The easiest way to prevent your puppy from chewing something they shouldn’t or that could be potentially harmful is to limit your puppy’s access in the home. Puppy pens and stair gates are a great way to ensure your puppy stays safe when you can’t watch them like a hawk. Creating a confinement area for your puppy will also help with toilet training as it will prevent them from making mistakes all over the house.

This doesn’t mean your puppy will always be confined to barracks, it just means that for the first few months of their lives with you they get to understand boundaries. By preventing them from finding the wonders of the kitchen or dining room will mean they will never know what they missed out on and therefore prevent problem behaviours like counter surfing or begging at the table from ever happening.

Other things you can do to prevent mistakes happening when your puppy is not in their confinement area are:

  • Hide the bin – even if you think your rubbish bin is impossible for a puppy to get into, don’t risk it because trust me they will find a way! Just put it somewhere they can’t get to it
  • Ensure power cables are hidden or put a barrier around them
  • Hide shoes – if your house is anything like mine you will have hundreds of trainers, boots, shoes that get left by the front door. Puppies love trainers!!!! So, put them away or shove them behind a door.
  • Tie full length curtains up above ground level or take them down
  • Remove rugs or anything that is likely to absorb urine. E.g. we have a custom-made door mat sunk into the floor by our back door. When our dogs were puppies, we just took this up as it would have been a nightmare to clean. As soon as they were toilet trained it went back down again.
  • Hide remote controls or put them out of reach
  • Don’t leave your Gucci handbag on the floor – puppies seem to know when it’s an expensive item! But that goes for all bags, put them away, hang them up – just keep them out of reach.
  • Remove any house plants from ground level. Many house plants are poisonous to dogs so best to be on the safe side and stick them all in one room that your puppy isn’t allowed into.
  • Stash away all cleaning equipment like bleach, bathroom cleaners etc. Also, things like antifreeze and garden pesticides.
  • Don’t allow your puppy to climb onto things that are too high. Puppies bones and joints are very fragile so it’s important they don’t jump off anything from a height. Keep them on the floor. Again, use stair gates and puppy pens to prevent them going where they could hurt themselves.

Puppy Proofing your home – outside

The most obvious thing to check in your garden is that your puppy can’t escape. Even if you think that they will never get through that small gap in the fence, fix it before they arrive - where there’s a will, there’s a way! If you have a very large garden it might be better to fence off an area for your puppy or use a large puppy pen/enclosure. Consider how big your dog is going to be when they’re fully grown. A 4ft fence might be ok now but any medium to large dog would be able to clear that no problem (trust me I know this from experience!). A 6ft fence is recommended for most dogs. I would also recommend a solid fence rather than a mesh fence that your puppy can see through. This will prevent problem behaviours like barking at your neighbours every time they go to put their washing out!

Other things to think about are:

  • If you have raised beds or anything that your puppy is likely to climb onto, fence it off so they can’t.
  • If you’re getting your puppy in the spring, dig up your daffodils and other bulbs – they are poisonous to dogs.
  • Check all the plants in your garden are safe for dogs. The Dogs Trust has a useful guide: https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/factsheets-downloads/factsheetpoisonoussubstances09.pdf
  • Fence off any areas of planting that you want to protect.
  • Don’t use any pesticides like slug pellets on your plants. Slug pellets are highly poisonous and if your puppy consumes even a small amount it can be fatal.
  • If you’re precious about your lawn, again consider sectioning off an area for your puppy. Make an area for them that they can dig and play. A sand pit perhaps.
  • Keep garden tools and any toxics in the shed/garage
  • If you have a compost heap – keep it our of reach or build a barrier around it.

What to buy?

It’s easy to spend an absolute fortune on exciting things for your new puppy so here is a list of my must haves for all new puppy owners:

  • Crate or puppy pen
  • Stair gate(s)
  • Plastic dog bed + cheap fleece blankets - don’t be tempted to buy a plush dog bed straight away – it won’t last 5 seconds. I find the plastic beds are great as you can easily clean them and having lots of cheap blankets means you can wash and rotate them.
  • 3 or 4 KONGs – these can be the traditional KONGs or some of the puppy KONG toys that you can stuff with food. These will be your life savers when you are doing crate training, teaching your puppy to settle, giving them something to do whilst you cook dinner etc. Look at the KONG website for more information on interactive feeding as that is a whole other blog! https://www.kongcompany.com/.Having 3 or 4 means you can have a couple pre-prepared for when you need them and a couple in the dishwasher.
  • Some good, natural edible chews like tripe sticks or bulls pizzles. Avoid anything with rawhide in it. You can also feed raw carrots to puppies for a natural, healthy chew. Don’t waste money on ‘dental chews’ – carrots are much better 😊
  • A variety of non-edible chews of different textures e.g. Nylabone
  • A couple of long, fluffy rag toys to redirect unwanted puppy biting. They need to be long so that you can keep a good distance from the bitey end and fluffy so that it’s nice and soft for your puppy to sink their teeth into as opposed to your skin
  • Water bowl
  • Slow feeder dinner bowl – this will make dinner times last longer and prevent your puppy from eating too quickly.
  • Soft puppy collar (you will also need a harness, but I wouldn’t get one straight away as you will only have to go out and buy another one in a few weeks when they’ve grown twice the size!)
  • 6ft training lead with clip at both ends – you can adjust the length of these leads as required
  • ID tag with your name, address and phone number on (it’s legal requirement to have an ID tag on your dog’s collar or harness when they are in a public place)
  • Puppy food – your breeder will probably give you some of the food they have been feeding. It’s best to stick with the same food initially but I would also recommend doing your own research on dog food (again a whole other blog!). This is a good website: https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/
  • Puppy treats – don’t be tempted by the huge assortment of treats available for puppies. Look for more natural, dried meat treats or create your own from chopped up cooked chicken, cheese, carrot, apple etc
  • Safe car travel equipment – small crate is best for a puppy, but you need to ensure they are happy in the crate first.
  • A good enzyme cleaner to get rid of urine smells
  • Lots of kitchen roll!
  • Poo bags
  • ‘Easy Peasy Puppy Squeasy’ by Steve Mann – an excellent book on how to bring up a new puppy

So, as you can see there’s lots to think about before you bring your new puppy home. If you haven’t owned a puppy before or it’s been a while since you did then I would strongly recommend getting the help from a trainer before your puppy arrives. They will be able to help you make sure you are ready for that big day, have the right set up in your home and guide you through those first critical days with your new member of the family.

Take a look at the IMDT website to find a qualified trainer near you: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer